Over the weekend, the Guugu Yimithirr people have welcomed visitors to Waymburr, now known as Cooktown, during the opening of Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 – The Rising Tide.
Federal Member for Leichhardt, Hon Warren Entsch MP, and State Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Hon Craig Crawford MP, joined the opening ceremony hosted by the Waymburr Warra Traditional Owners Erica Deeral, Fred Deeral, Betty Woibo and Rebecca Powell.
Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said the Rising Tide theme of Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 celebrates reconciliation across ten days and nights of free entertainment, business and cultural events.
“Cooktown’s Reconciliation Rocks precinct where Australia’s first recorded act of reconciliation took place in 1770 between James Cook and a Waymburr Warra Elder was officially opened on Friday with a Firestick Parade and Smoking Ceremony,” he said.
The celebrations continued into the night with live entertainment including Mau Power, Dalkin Band and Nightshift and the Reconciliation Rocks Concert last night featuring headliners Busby Marou and Troy Cassar-Daley.
Visitors to the Expo can enjoy a wide range of experiences, including local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Nguumbar Nhaama Exhibition, watching the Endeavour River creation story being performed in Warrma and enjoying the unique dances of performers from throughout Cape York Peninsula.
“Diverse entertainment continues during the week with live theatre, comedy, country music, a lecture on Joseph Banks, and the Cooktown Cantata, a specially commissioned musical piece featuring leading Australian baritone Jeffrey Black and Guugu Yimithirr singer Derek Rosendale.
“The Cape York Dynamic Business Symposium on 14-16 June has high-calibre speakers from The Cairns Institute discussing business resilience in the wake of the pandemic.
“The Discovery Festival on 18-20 June is the finale with Captain Cook’s Landing Re-enactment, the Endeavour Ball, the Cooktown Long Lunch and a re-enactment of a gold delivery to the bank.
“There is still accommodation available over the ten days of the expo with a tent city and an RV ground ready for visitors with options listed on cooktownexpo.com.au.”
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the event was an opportunity to advance reconciliation in Queensland’s Year of Indigenous Tourism.
“The Queensland Government is proud to support the Cooktown and Cape York Expo 2021 – a respectful celebration of our shared history, and a unique regional event, supporting the State’s economic recovery from COVID-19,” Minister Crawford said.
“Through music, art, cultural displays, and interactive activities, the expo invites attendees to reflect on the past, create a better understanding of the present and contribute towards a brighter, shared future between Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Queenslanders.
“I thank those who have travelled from across Queensland and interstate to attend the expo, immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of the region’s Traditional Owners, and support local hospitality and accommodation providers.
“Over the last five years, Indigenous tourism has increased by 6.4 per cent – demonstrating strong demand and support for authentic First Nations experiences.
“As we reframe our relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on Queensland’s Path to Treaty, we are reaffirming our state’s position as a leading destination for cultural tourism and experiences with opportunities for First Nations-owned businesses, workforces and communities to thrive.”
Four Legacy Projects will be revealed as part of the celebrations after Cook Shire Council received $5,455,000 in Commonwealth Community Development Grants. The $1.2 million Reconciliation Rocks Precinct Development, the site of Australia’s first recorded act of reconciliation and the $575,000 Waalmbal Birri Cultural Centre have opened. Work has started on a $1.98 million redevelopment of the Botanic Gardens and the $1.7 million Gamaay Dreaming Track Development.
Cooktown & Cape York Expo 2021 is proudly supported by the Australian and Queensland Governments and Cook Shire Council.
The sponsors are Westpac Indigenous Banking, NBN, Ergon Energy, PCYC, Essential Air Services, Skytrans, Apunipima, Cornetts IGA Cooktown, Cairns Hardware Cooktown and Reel Planning.